Farmers ‘pleasantly surprised’ with harvest despite summer drought

Local News

HUGHES AND SULLY COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — Fall harvest is in full swing across South Dakota.

With the drought conditions this summer, some producers in the central part of the state were worried about having a decent crop. However, after catching some rainfall at the end of summer and beginning of fall, their yields are doing better than originally predicted.

Drought struck the state hard, but for producers like Todd Yackley who experienced some late rains, his fall crops are doing better than he anticipated.

“I know there’s going to be areas that it’s not very good, but what we’ve been into we’ve been pleasantly surprised. Some of the good areas in some of these fields has been really good, as probably as good as we’ve had in several years,” Yackley said.

The variability that he is experiencing is due to soil types and rainfall in certain areas.

“It’s a little bit all over the board, I think you’re going to find that all over here in central South Dakota,” Yackley said.

Implementing no-till farming and crop rotation helped the crops significantly during the dry conditions.

“It’s really the long-term soil building and it’s really taking that evaporation loss out and making all the water go in the soil and then come back out to a plant making something to use,” Dwayne Beck, Manager of Dakota Lakes Research Farm.

“No-till farming in this area is king and without that, we’d be in a world of hurt,” Yackley said.

Weather is still a concern as harvest continues. If there is severe weather, it could damage the crop.

“If we got a big wind and rain event here with the sunflowers maturing, we’ve seen it before where you know we get a 50-60 mph wind and get a drought stressed area, we come out the next day and the sunflowers are going to be flat on the ground. Same thing can happen in the corn, you know, there’s some stalk quality issues,” Yackley said.

The current conditions are good for those who are planting winter wheat.

“It’s probably the best conditions I’ve ever seen for planting winter wheat in South Dakota, moisture was real nice, things really worked well,” Yackley said.

This year was very stressful on producers, and Yackley says he is thankful for the support of his family and employees.

“It was tough, but it’s what we do I guess. You know, every day is a different day and you try to make the best of it. It’s a lot of fun but this year maybe not as much fun but hopefully mother nature straightens out a little bit and we are always looking forward to the next year and hopefully it will be better,” Yackley said.

Wheat definitely was affected the hardest, but the sunflowers and corn are more drought tolerant and with the recent rainfall they have been able to finish strong.

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